By Kyle Merber
September 7, 2022
You signed up for this newsletter to keep in touch with what’s happening in the sport and now you’re staring down a picture of my chest hair — it took 79 weeks, but this was all part of the plan! Well, last week when I shared that I’d be running the New York City Marathon, I did not expect such a strong reaction from The Lap Count community. The response was motivating, partially because apparently a lot of you think I am capable of running way faster than I’d have predicted, but also some expectations were rather…insulting?
This is why I have decided to do something even Eliud Kipchoge never had the guts to do —
I am going to try and win the New York City Marathon I am going to run the New York City Marathon in a respectable time!
Jokes aside, let me provide some context via a bit of personal history.
I have never raced the marathon before, but I have covered the distance twice. The first time was with a bunch of friends in November 2020 for the virtual running of New York. We did a version of the course that overlapped with the real thing by a good amount and the group ran 3 hours 18 minutes. It was by far the longest amount of time that I had ever spent moving on my feet and ended up with a couple of bloody toes, but for the most part, it was chill.
Then last October, I helped pace a couple of friends for their 20-mile long run as they were getting ready for a fall marathon. Upon getting back to the car I thought — I have 10k more in me! And then ran a bunch of 6-flats to finish it off in 2:58, only to have the next few days of my life ruined.
Neither of those efforts should give too much indication as to how the actual thing will go, but during the course of my career, I routinely ran 90+ miles a week in singles. I’d have considered myself a strong miler despite my couple of failed attempts at the 5000m and multiple training partners still suggesting to this day that I’d have been way better had I leaned into my natural speed and focused on the 800 more.
The closest I’ve come to true marathon training came during the onset of the pandemic. My response to the cancellation of all events in 2020 was to run a lot and honestly, it worked moderately well as a coping mechanism. While living in a bubble sucked for all of us, it still felt like I had some purpose.
I checked off the first-ever 100-mile training week of my life and I closed it out by running 20 miles at 5:53 pace. I did stuff like that for a few months, highlighted by a 10-mile tempo at 4:58 pace, but then got burnt out on running being my whole life. That’s when I fixed up my resume and stopped using contraception. Maybe, had I been less intense in trying to maintain some level of normalcy and control in my life, then I’d have continued running like that. But no regrets! Things have worked out quite well since.
For the last couple of years, I’ve enjoyed a steady diet of 30 to 50 mile weeks with a regular cadence of doing an easy workout once every other week, just to feel something. It’s long been my plan to return to a less serious level of racing (yes, the same plan that has me sending 1,000-word personal essays to your inbox now weekly).
The theme in the first month of this build-up has been a pleasant surprise over how quickly my fitness is returning. Although I could only muster 66 miles this week, my Wednesday workout (3 x 3 miles w/ 3’ @ 5:13 pace) felt super in control. It was a sizable jump from what I had done the week before and gave me an injection of hope about the value of muscle memory.
Fast forward to Sunday, I ran 19 miles, averaging 6:11 pace, with the final 7 miles under a 5:45 clip. I’ve never had to take in fuel before and probably need to start getting serious about it immediately. That’s why I am excited to share that UCAN, one of the earliest sponsors of this newsletter, reached out and asked if they could help.
This isn’t quite uncharted territory for me yet, but the waters are getting a little less familiar. Momentum will play a big role in the next two months — the enjoyment of progress could snowball into me training harder and believing in myself more. I’m still deriving a lot of confidence from the fact that it’s much easier to get in shape when you’ve been there before, and so much of my potential in November will be dictated not just by my training today, but by what I had done in the past.
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After hanging up his spikes – but never his running shoes – Kyle pivoted to the media side of things, where he shares his enthusiasm, insights, and experiences with subscribers of The Lap Count newsletter, as well as viewers of CITIUS MAG live shows.